Mountain Ridge took home the first state championship — in any sport — in school history Thursday night, with a 11-9 victory over the Skyridge Falcons in the 6A girls lacrosse state title game.
The Sentinels lost to Skyridge back in March, but a hot start and electric student section helped them control the title game. Paige Runia won the opening face-off, leading to an Emery Clark goal on the game’s opening possession. Clark would add a second goal just two minutes later as Mountain Ridge took an early 2-0 lead.
“When we met them earlier in the season, it was the opposite, they were ahead right off the bat and it was a struggle for us,” Mountain Ridge coach Angie Brescia said. “We have learned and grown, formed a better team connection that allowed Emery to set the tone for us the rest of the game.”
Skyridge would fight back, but struggled to get the ball in the back of the net with Mountain Ridge’s Bekah Bargeron defending the goal.
Countless saves forced the Falcons’ offense to get creative. Haven Buechner had the most success and she tied the game at two goals apiece on a beautiful goal with just over 10 minutes left in the first half.
Mountain Ridge responded 53 seconds later, though, as Morgan Mackey was able to slice through the defense and find the back of the net, a score that ignited the Sentinels, who went on to take a 6-3 halftime lead.
The Falcons showed some life at the start of the second half, scoring 12 seconds in, and just over a minute later had a great chance to cut the lead to just one, but Bargeron made a key save to preserve the Mountain Ridge lead. The Sentinels scored on the ensuing possession to regain a three goal lead.
“There is a lot of pressure on goalies, so I felt pressure at that moment, but I just kept thinking that this team is working so hard, that I have to work just as hard,” Bargeron said. “Once I made that save, that is when we realized we are all still in this and it changed the game.
“This team is just wonderful, everywhere. We are strong on offense, defense and middies. We all just wanted it. Anytime anybody makes a mistake, anybody can pick anybody up.”
The two teams went back and forth for the next 10 minutes before Tessa Mortensen took over a two-minute stretch. First, she had a nice up and over assist that landed right in the head of Mackey’s stick. She turned and scored her fourth goal of the game.
A minute later, Mortensen scored herself to give the Sentinels their biggest lead of the game, a four goal advantage with under 10 minutes to play.
“Tessa is one of the most important players on our team, she has the most hustle, she keeps everyone’s head in the game, and helping us go up by four encouraged us that we could hold on and win the game,” Mackay said. “We just had to keep playing our game and win the state championship.”
The Falcons would cut the Mountain Ridge lead to two late in the game, but between Bargeron’s stellar goalkeeping and the clock, Skyridge couldn’t complete the comeback.
“We had some early tough losses in the season, but we learned from them and came back stronger,” Brescia said. “In our region, we had to play everyone a second time and those games were comeback games for the other team.
“We knew we couldn’t take anyone for granted and come out strong. We knew we were gonna make mistakes, but it was how we responded to those mistakes and how we picked each other up and kept the positivity that took us to success.”